A/N: Thanks so much to Charlotte88, Slayergirl, Thyqua, dinabar, tigpop and Eliza-angel for reviewing my first fic and making me feel really welcome here. And especially to Ann1119 who's already read & reviewed this one on my website. You're a star (and you made me cry ;-). Wrote this yesterday and am still nervous about posting it, so I hope it's not too corny... Title was inspired by "If my heart was a house" by Owl City.
You are tired. The kind of tired that makes your limbs uncomfortably numb and your head heavy. Part of you fears your neck will simply refuse to carry that extra weight and finally bend far enough to the left to dump and bump your head unceremoniously onto the desk.
Of course you know, anatomically speaking, this is not possible.
If it were, you'd be one of the "Fantastic Four". Or an "X-Man". You'd probably be flying across the world in a really cool spaceship-kind-of-plane with lots of geeky gadgets to press and play with. You'd be fighting villains and defending the earth and…
… you definitely wouldn't be stuck at a desk that isn't even yours on a Friday night.
You look over at *your* desk and reality settles back in with a sardonic snigger.
You are not even able to defend your own workspace from a single woman.
So from a super-hero point of view, you really deserve to be stuck behind a desk on a Friday night.
Which brings you back to the beginning of this particular train of thought.
You are tired. So tired.
The exhaustion you feel, drowns out every sound, until there is only a silent white noise in the back of your mind. You watch Leo turn off the lights in his office, close the door, check his watch, look at you, wave apologetically and leave. The exhaustion makes everything go into slow motion and you suspect if Leo had spoken to you, he'd have sounded like an old walk-man on almost empty batteries.
Or Darth Vader without a cold.
You shake your head to clear it. You definitely need more coffee. A lot more coffee, to keep at least the most basic brain-functions from shutting down for the night.
You shake your head again and turn back to the task you wanted to finish before joining the X-Men. The computer-screen in front of you is a white rectangular glimpse into hell. At least your burning eyes think so. Black shapes start to appear on the bright nothingness and start crawling across the blank space. It takes you a while to realise that it's you, who is responsible for this, but you have no idea what you are actually typing.
But you suspect whatever it is, it probably doesn't make much sense.
"Severed right *fool*?"
Your suspicions were correct then.
You feel a hand on your shoulder and an amused voice in your ear:
"How on earth was she able to walk with a man attached to her ankle before the accident?"
You laugh and rub your eyes, too tired to give a witty reply, but thankful for the distraction nevertheless. Your silence does not go unnoticed. The hand on your shoulder tightens a little.
"Are you okay?"
And that is really all it is. Just tired after a long day. Not a particularly bad day, no danger, no fights, no gruesome deaths – well, at least no one you knew personally and no murder victims for a change – just a very long day. A long week. You feel just like most people feel on a Friday. You do not feel guilty about anything, you are not angry, not in trouble or upset, just tired. So you muster a smile and turn your head to look at her, to assure her, that the concern in her voice doesn't need to be there.
"If I start snoring, just give me a gentle nudge, okay?"
She laughs at that, ruffles your hair in a tender way and presses a kiss on the top of your head. Then she moves back to your desk and you realise her actions distracted you just long enough to miss another opportunity to reclaim your desk.
Damn. That woman is clever.
You watch her as she slides back down on the chair and leans forward, her right hand fishing for a pen, buried somewhere beneath folders and papers and print-outs. She frowns in irritation at something on her computer-screen – probably an e-mail, you think – and huffs slightly, then starts to search for something in the left pile of papers. A strand of hair keeps falling into her face and even though you are too far away from her, you feel the strong urge to reach out and tuck it gently behind her ear.
Since both her hands are occupied with searching the desk, she tries to nudge the offending curl back into place by shaking her head. When that doesn't work, she huffs at it, then ignores it. But you can see, it still irritates her. Finally, when you'd just made the decision to use your remaining strength to get up and walk over to her, she makes a small triumphant noise and while one hand is holding a piece of paper, the other finally tucks the renegade blonde curl back into its place behind her ear.
Of course she has no idea, how amazing that simple movement is and what it does to you in quiet moments like this.
She also has no idea, that when her eyes light up like they do now and her lips curl into a small smile – a smile that you know can expand into such sheer joy, it can light up a whole room – it has a similar effect on you. Sometimes even you forget it has, or you choose to block it out, but right now you are enjoying watching her and somehow it makes the exhaustion turn slowly into something far more cosy and comfortable.
She stares at the document in her hands, then at the screen, her eyes moving back and forth between the data on the screen and on the paper. Her smile widens.
Obviously she's found something.
"Yes, I knew it", you hear her mumbling, her slim fingers starting to move swiftly over the keys, typing fast, the irritated frown from before turning into concentration, the change in her expression so subtle, you suspect only you can spot it.
The curl falls back into her face and when she tries to get it rid of it again by force of breath – which of course only works for a second – she looks so utterly adorable, it triggers an emotion in you that blocks out everything else.
Including the basic functions of your respiratory system.
When you finally realise that without air, you'd not be able to enjoy that feeling much longer, you draw in a deep breath.
And that's when your world shifts.
You recognise the feeling at once, because you've felt the exact same way once before in your life. Only back then, you were sitting where she is right now and she was standing by the window, checking her outfit in the make-shift mirror, before asking you if you thought it suited her.
You are still surprised that you managed to get out a full, coherent and rather perfect sentence back then. You rather expected yourself to say something along the lines of "hmmmmmmm".
Your world had shifted a little then, the needle of your inner compass that had been spinning erratically before, suddenly turning slowly but steadily towards something new and so totally out of your emotional range it scared you. Because it was a destination you wanted to reach desperately, but feared you never would. Too many wrong turns, too many one-way-streets and endless roads, too few maps to guide you there, to safety and comfort and something you don't want to name, because even as tired and on emotional overdrive as you are right now, you are still a man.
Man. As in male.
There are just a few words you *don't* think out loud.
Not even in your own head.
But the picture stays with you. Like the northern star she had suddenly cast a warm, bright light into your life, guiding you, giving you a sense of direction, a destination to reach. And you know you are close to the end of the journey. You feel the world shift one last time.
Then it stops.
And suddenly it's so simple. It's so simple you want to laugh. To scream. To cry. To jump up. You look at her across the desk and do none of the above. Instead you just smile and continue to look at her. She stops typing, clicks the left mouse-button once, gives a content nod and finally looks up.
When she sees the very broad grin on your face and the fact that there's not a trace of exhaustion left in it, she looks puzzled and a little alarmed.
"What kind of nothing?"
"I rather think it's the its-been-far-too-long-since-I-did-something-to-annoy-Nikki-kind. You staring at me for hours and grinning like the Cheshire cat usually means you are up to something rather sinister."
She gives you a stern look, but you do notice there's a small twinkle in her eyes.
"No throwing of paper-balls or other stationary, no mock phone-calls and no bad jokes. I really want to finish this report and be off."
"I wasn't staring and I am far too tired to throw anything. Paper-ball wouldn't make it past my own screen, probably bounce back from it and hit me."
She's giggling now. Which is what you wanted. Bugger, you think. She's noticed you looking. How did she notice? She had never even looked up once and you had kept on typing nonsense all the while, so she wouldn't.
"Seriously, Harry", she tries again. "What it is?"
"Nothing. I told you. Just thinking."
You suddenly feel the need to yawn and stretch and so you do, closing your eyes for a second, enjoying the feeling of contentedness that is steadily overriding the exhaustion.
"Thinking about what, Harry?"
"About how much I love you."
The words are out before you can stop them.
You don't take it back. You don't explain. And you don't look away. Because at the end of the day, at the end of *this* day, there is nothing to explain, nothing to discuss and nothing to hide from. It's as simple as that.
You love her.
She looks at you, a long searching look, her eyes wide, her expression guarded. You hold her gaze, the only thing you do is lean a little forward towards her and rest your chin on your hands. The latter, because part of you still thinks your head might fall off, though you can feel the tiredness recede further and further. On that note, you desperately hope, you don't have to yawn again right now.
You realise she is blushing slightly, and then that small smile creeps back into her face and when it widens and reaches her eyes, the room is suddenly brighter than before and you start breathing again, barely aware that you'd stopped. She leans forward on your desk now, mimicking your own movements. Her eyes are sparkling and looking directly into your soul.
"And you think that's nothing?", she inquires.
"No. It's everything", you simply state.
When her face shows no sign of panic, fear or resentment at your words, you finally dare to make you body move out of the chair. She watches you cross the short space between your desks, her eyes never leaving yours. You lean down, take her warm hands in yours and gently pull her up and towards you. When her face is only inches away from yours, you let go of her hands and let your fingers trail up and down her arms. You can feel her leaning into your touch. Her eyes show no doubt, no hesitation, but seem to urge you instead to close the tiny gap that still separates your bodies.
So you do.
Your lips meet hers and you kiss her. Slowly, tenderly, running your hands up and down her back, feeling her shiver at your touch and moan a little when you deepen the kiss. Her hands are in your hair and when the kiss ends, she tenderly strokes your cheek, running her fingers along your jaw.
You pull her back against your body and when her arms are wrapped around your neck, you feel her smile against your skin.
"I thought you were tired?"
"Feel much better now, actually." You capture her lips for a brief kiss and grin broadly.
"This is far better than coffee."
And then her lips touch yours again and her hands are back in your hair and you hold her, kiss her, touch her and finally hear her whisper in a sound between a sigh and a laugh that you are an idiot, but that she loves you, too.
You never thought it could be this simple.
But it is.